It is a custom in the typical Indian tradition, wherein the entire family eats its meals together. A few years ago, Indian families were larger and everyone was encouraged to consume at least one meal (mostly dinner) together.
As we race into the silicon era, this trend has disappeared. Nuclear families are now prominent, and in most cases both parents are working. The child is either with his grandparents or with the maid. Night shifts are also popular with many companies. The concept of eating with the entire family is not inculcated in many families, as it is not practical anymore. Urban lifestyle in many cases demands eating on the move. Many corporate big wigs have their breakfast in their cars on the way to work. Commuting itself takes a large chunk of our precious time.
The concept of eating meals together is still followed religiously in some parts of the world. Man is a social animal and meal times spent with the family helps in bonding. It is a time for light moments as well as serious decisions that affect the family as a whole. Differences are sorted out during meal times and solutions are worked upon for the same.
Children learn by watching the elders and learn how to maintain family ties. They learn how to eat correctly as well as understand individual personality traits. Tantrum throwing is reduced and the child is compelled to eat whatever is served for all. Junk food and fast food are automatically discouraged. Children also learn to eat by themselves in the presence of other elders in the family. The child has a sense of belonging and bonding with the family members. Sharing meal times with the family also ensures that the child eats instead of playing with his food.
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